February 6, 2014, 2:03 PM

Mobile devices account for nearly a third of web traffic

Internet browsing from smartphones and tablets grew 35% year over year from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013, when it accounted for 31% of all web traffic, according to Walker Sands. More than half of mobile traffic to web sites comes from links in natural search results.

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Almost a third of global Internet traffic to North American web sites—31.3%—in the fourth quarter of 2013 came from smartphones and tablets, according to marketing and public relations firm Walker Sands Communications’ Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report. That’s up 34% year over year from Q4 2012, when mobile devices accounted for 23.4% of total web traffic, Walker Sands says.

More than half of mobile traffic to web sites (about 51%) comes from organic search, up nearly 19% year over year since Q4 2012, the report says. About 33% of mobile traffic begins with consumers typing web addresses into their browsers, while another 10%, approximately, comes from referrals outside of search engines, such as links from affiliate or other web sites. Walker Sands did not specify the source of the remaining traffic.

“Our findings this quarter both re-establish the importance of businesses investing in strong mobile components and also demonstrate the growing value of search engine optimization strategies on both web and mobile browsers,” says John Fairley, director of web services at Walker Sands.

Of the types of mobile devices consumers use to access the Internet, Android continues to increase its lead over Apple iOS. In the fourth quarter of 2013, smartphones and tablets running Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system accounted for 49.6% of mobile traffic, up from 42.4% in Q4 2012, the report says. Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad together accounted for 45.9% of mobile traffic, down from 51.7% in Q4 2012. Of the remainder, 0.8% of mobile traffic came from BlackBerrys and the rest came from other mobile devices.

“While in previous quarters Apple has been a clear leader in the mobile world, the accelerated adoption rate of Android devices has begun to create a shift,” says Daniel Laloggia, digital marketing manager at Walker Sands. “However, iPad devices are still currently dominating the tablet market, while Android is having faster growth in mobile phone devices.”

By device, the percentage of total mobile traffic in Q4 2013 and Q4 2012, according to Walker Sands:

  • iPhone: 32.0%, 34.8%
  • iPad: 13.9%, 17.0%
  • Android smartphone: 45.6%, 39.9%
  • Android tablet: 4.0%, 2.5%
  • BlackBerry: 0.8%, 1.9%
  • Other mobile devices: 3.7%, 3.9%
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